When Ames was going under, Mike immediately ran out and got one of those inflatable chairs, because they were popular at the time. It became readily obvious as to why they went out of style, because it was a total pain in the ass to inflate and keep inflated. It came with patches for when it sprung leaks, but we’d gone through them all within the week.
It was a cold Saturday afternoon. I arrived at Mike’s house, as it was the de facto assembling point at the time. Joe was there, so was Mindy, the chick he was dating at the time, along with Tim ‘n’ Rick, and maybe Jered and Ken. As we were loading up out cars to head over to Behrend for sledding, Mike walks out with the inflato-chair.
“Are you throwing inflato-chair out?” I ask.
“Yeah, but I’m going to ride it down the sledding hill first,” said Mike.
“Oh, so you’re going to deflate it and sit on it, like one of those roll-up toboggans?” I ask.
“No, I was just going to keep it as it is, and ride down the hill on an easy chair,” said Mike.
I collapsed with laughter, because the movie in my head was just that great. So we all drive to Behrend, and trudge up the hill. There were about thirty people there, all of whom smiled at the prospect for fun upon seeing the inflato-chair. Mike mounts the inflato-chair, and we push it down the hill, except that we just wound up pushing Mike off the chair. We repeated this another six or seven times to collect enough data to conclude what was going on. Apparently inflato-chair had a coefficient of friction large enough to render it unusable as a sled. We also found that to keep from being pushed off, you had to recline almost, by leaning back. Even then, the chair’s bottom would remain in place, and the rest of it would just ooze over that point, kind of like a Caterpillar drive, eventually ejecting the passenger. WD-40 could not correct this. In anger of the massive disappointment that was inflato-chair, we kick it into the wooded thicket atop the hill.
“Stupid inflato-chair,” mutters Mike.
“I hate inflato-chair,” declares Joe.
So we sled for a while, I had some pretty neat jumps and wipe-outs on the Saucer of Doom, but nothing as epic as last time. Little kids kept coming up for a hit of WD-40, and their parents would pull them away, fearing for their safety. Eventually, I discovered the solution to our problems.
“Dude!” I shout. “We need to put inflato-chair on the saucer!”
Everyone’s eyes light up, then fade away as Joe points out:
“You’ll just be pushed off of it.”
“No, I wont, because you’re pushing the saucer, and not the chair,” I tell him.
Without speaking, we all run into the thicket to retrieve inflato-chair from the woods. I WD-40 the saucer and set the chair on top of it. Everyone backs the fuck up, I align the chair with the jump in the middle of the hill, lean back, and give a thumbs up. Joe and Mike pushed me down the hill. It worked flawlessly. I was about halfway to the jump, when a little kid, maybe about six or seven — old enough to know better — was standing in the middle of the hill. No one saw him before because the jump had obstructed him from our view. It was a really sweet jump. I started shouting at the kid:
“Dude! Move dude! Get out of the way dude! Dude! Move!”
The kid didn’t move. He just stood there for what seems like a minute. I want to think that his brief life was flashing before his eyes, but that couldn’t have been it. He hadn’t accrued nearly enough life experience to cause him to seize for that long. He stood there because he was too damn confused, because a twenty year-old man with a beard and a silly hat was hollering all kinds of sentence fragments at him, while barreling towards him in a bright yellow Barcalounger at thirty miles per hour. I drew closer and closer, and screamed louder and louder.
“Dude! Get the hell out of the way dude! Run, man! Run! Move dude! Dude!”
I want to say that everything was ok. I want to say that kid was… well, fuck, sentient. He wasn’t.
I totally crushed that kid. Bad.
I should be in jail, that’s how bad it was.
Imagine a hovercraft running over a speed bump. That’s an accurate portrayal of events. He didn’t even have time to scream as he got sucked under.
“Oooooh!” shouted the thirty people atop the hill in unison.
A second later, I hit the jump, and became a projectile. I flew in a parabolic path, similar to an Olympic ski jumper, but without skis or training. As the ground rapidly approached, I tucked my chin and did a proper ukemi, and log rolled about 300 feet down the hill. I laid there for a second, testing each joint to make sure my spinal cord was still intact. When it was, I walked in a sine wave back up the hill, picking up my saucer and inflato-chair, breathing deeply to get the stars to stop. Towards the top of the hill, sitting next to the jump, was the crying child who I completely and totally destroyed, and his dad. He was angry.
“Why did you do that?” asked the dad.
“I tried to tell him to move,” I explain.
“You could’ve done something,” snaps the dad.
“No, I was stuck in that that thing. I couldn’t move, he could,” I explain.
The dad wants to be angry, but can’t.
“C’mon,” he says to his brutally crushed and p0wn’d son. “Let’s go!”
I want to feel bad, but I can’t because it’s not my fault that his kid was too dumb to move. At least that’s how I think the conversation went; my razor-sharp memory fails me in this instance. I likely suffered a minor concussion, so I get a by for that.